Tulsa Police Chief Requests Major Increase To Force

Thursday, February 28th 2013, 7:01 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Tulsa's police force has slowly gotten smaller over the last five years, but it could grow, a lot, in the next two.

Growth means dollars, and now that the city has a little more to spend, budget folks at City Hall are considering what to do with the money.

One likely bet is that at some of that will go to more police officers, to get the force where experts say it ought to be.

It's budget time at City Hall, which is why the City Council is asking department heads what they want, before deciding what they'll get.

When it comes to policing, the Chief says Tulsa needs more officers.

"I would like to see us get to the standard that other cities our size are at, and that would be in excess of 900," said Chief Chuck Jordan.

That would be a huge increase, as Tulsa has 779 officers, right now. That's after several years of cutbacks, including a layoff, and a slowdown in new hiring, while more officers than usual were leaving.

2/7/2013 Related Story: City Council Recommends Upgrades For Police Department

Tulsa gets new officers through a police academy, and it's only practical to add about 60 officers a year.

Jordan is shooting for 900, eventually, but said his realistic goal is 830, two years from now.

"We don't expect, in any way shape or form, to get that number immediately. We'll have to do it incrementally. We've just come through a severe downturn," Jordan said.

Tulsa's crime rate has dropped over the last few years despite the smaller force, but Chief Jordan said the biggest problems are caused by chronic offenders.

He said it will take more officers to address that problem.

"We solve crimes, not by answering calls. We solve crime with proactive policing, and if we had that kind of officers, we could have our street crime units back and have the kind of proactive units that go out and target serial offenders and can impact crime to a great degree," Jordan said.

The chief would like to get the money to hire 15 to 20 civilians.

They could take over some desk jobs, so those officers could go back out on the streets.

Civilians work for less, so it's not only the fastest, it's the cheapest way to get more officers out on patrol.